Hopi High School's new head football coach Ben Willey expects the team to finish second or third in the 2A North Conference this fall.
Coach Willey has coached football for 15 years and also played football in college. He likes to coach football because it gives him a chance to "work with the guys."
Willey would like to make it to the playoffs and have at least four or five players make the all district team.
This year there are nine returning players: Jerry Johns, Garrett Kalemsa, Roper Crook, Lani Ackley, Kyi David, Lindsey Koinva, Alan Shupla, Tony Pawesiema and Brian Pawesiema. There are 37 players that make up the team.
Coach Willey has seven seniors on the team this year. They include: Garrett Kalemsa, Jerry Johns, Roper Crook, Lindsey Koinva, Ray Honyaoma, Marlon Parra and Jeremy Calnimptewa. The team lost eight or nine seniors to graduation last year.
Willey said he sees talented newcomers on the team including Calnimptewa, Trevor Crook, Jordan Kewanwytewa, Miles Thomas and Honyaoma. He said he expects Honyaoma to be a big help to the team.
Johns, Kalemsa and Honyaoma are the three players he believes will rise as leaders for the team.
"Summer football camp went real well," Willey said.
He had a turnout of about 25 kids. The players spent five days in Utah.
Coach Willey has an idea of who his starting offense will be. The lineup includes: quarterback: Jerry Johns; tight ends: Roper and Trevor Crook; tackles: Vernon Nephi and Daniel Joseph; center: Thomas; and guards: Parra and David. The starting lineup also includes Tony Pawesiema, Kalemsa and Kewanwytewa.
Willey said the starting defense will probably include tackles Joseph and Evan Martin; defensive ends: Roper and Trevor Crook; outside linebackers: Honyaoma and Ackley, inside linebackers: Kalemsa and Parra; cornerbacks: Kewanwytewa and Eric Kallestewa; and safety: Brian Pawesiema.
Willey is not definite about who will make up his starting lineup as some changes may be made.
Annalese Nasafotie writes for Hopi High's award winning Bruin Times newspaper.